Fight

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Don’t fall for the love of money
Be content with all you have
Put off the sin that clings closely
Never pick it up again

Fight the good fight of faith
Lay it down, set aside every weight
To finish the long hard race
We must fight…
Fight the good fight of faith
Fight…
Fight the good fight of faith

So prepare yourself for battle
While trusting Almighty God
For there will be days of struggle
But stay strong in what you’ve learned

One caution, don’t take this lightly
The discipline of the Lord
When He corrects, don’t grow weary
For it proves how much He loves

Behind the Lines

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV).

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Delighting in the LORD’s Discipline

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What comes to mind when you think of a father’s discipline? Is it a rough and tough dad picking-you-up-by-the-pants and spanking you angrily out-of-control, or is it a strong, but caring father who firmly corrects you because he loves and delights in you? The later is of course the picture painted about the discipline our Heavenly Father gives in Proverbs.

Proverbs 3:11-12
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

The Hebrew word for despise is ma’ac (phonetically maw-as’) and it means to abhor, cast away off, disdain, become loathsome, refuse. What are we not to make light of and refuse? God’s love through His discipline. The Hebrew word for weary is quts (phonetically koots) which means to feel a loathing, abhorrence, or sickening dread. What are we not to sickening dread? God’s love through His reproof.

Let’s turn our attention to the word delight. It’s the Hebrew word ratsah (phonetically raw-tsaw’) which means to be pleased with or accept favorably. Should we loathe and hate to be under the loving care and discipline of a Father who is pleased with us and accepts us so favorably?

Think about these two points:  

  1. Our Heavenly Father disciplines us because He loves and delights in us, but if we despise His correction, we are despising His love.
  2. Our Heavenly Father disciplines us for His glory and our good, but when we’re in dread of, or distressed by, His correction, we are in fact denying His goodness and throwing shade on His glory.

Even the best earthly father will fail in many ways and ruin the perfect picture of love and discipline painted in this verse. The writer of the Book of Hebrews quotes it again to remind us not to forget it and never grow weary of our Heavenly Father’s discipline and care.

Hebrews 12:5-11 
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 

Don’t you love that He disciplines us for our good so that we may share in His holiness? Sinners! You and me? Holy?

Yes, His discipline may seem painful for a time, but it will one day produce peaceful fruit and holiness! And fruit takes the mind all the way back to the garden, to that seemingly delightful, yet sinful fruit that Adam and Eve partook of. But God, in Genesis 3:15, promised an Offspring, and then took His children by the hand in order to lead them all the way back to peace with Him. This peaceful fruit was made possible by and through the sacrifice of the promised Offspring – His One Loved Son!

We have a Good, Good Father indeed! Delight in Him…

Higher

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Who can tell of all your deeds
Who can declare all your praise
Who can know all that you know
Who can love like you, O Lord

Your ways are higher than our ways
Holy, full of grace
Your wrath and mercy coexist
Perfect love in justice
You came to die so we might live
Paid it all, gave yourself
We praise your name, Most High
You are Higher

You comfort us in our distress
You never break your promises
You are more than we can receive
We’ll learn from you eternally

It’s undeniable
Your thoughts are beyond us all
Incomprehensible
Your greatness cheers our soul

Behind the lines

Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORDor declare all his praise?
Psalm 106:2

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

Dealing with a Scoffer

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You’ve probably heard the saying, “you don’t want to be THAT person”, but what if you’re entangled in a life circumstance with THAT person through work or family? What is a scoffer and how do you deal with a scoffer?

The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and based on the Book of Proverbs he must have dealt with many difficult people and situations as he uses the Hebrew word luts (phonetically loots) for scoffer more than a dozen times.

This word means: to make mouths at, i.e. to scoff or have in derision, interpreter, ambassador (a bad one), make a mock, mocker, and scorner. A scoffer is generally surrounded by similar words like the Hebrew word zed (phonetically zade) which means arrogant, presumptuous, and proud. Other words describe this person as quarreling and full of strife. Thus, a scoffer is a very difficult person who is either clearly not a Christian, or could be the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing who is not a true follower of Christ.

For instance:

Proverbs 21:24 (ESV) – “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.

Proverbs 24:9 – The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

So how do we deal with a scoffer? First, we must let the Bible inform us, we must heed the warnings and recognize the danger. For example:

Psalm 1:1-2 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Proverbs 9:7-8 – Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 14:6 – A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.

Proverbs 22:10 – Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.

Based on God’s word, and the wisdom provided, we must be very careful with a scoffer. We shouldn’t seek their counsel and we shouldn’t counsel, rebuke, or reprove them because it will only create hatred in them toward us and bring injury to us. However, there may be a time where you must drive away a scoffer which means you shouldn’t handle it alone. You will need to get others involved who have the authority to help you, even a restraining order.

But what about loving our enemies? Aren’t we supposed to love them? Yes, but sometimes staying away, driving away, or leaving someone alone is the best way to the love them and protect you and your family in a God honoring way.

If you find yourself in a difficult situation with a scoffer (and it may take a while to identify them as such) the best advice is to inform yourself with the Word of God, heed the truth, seek wise counsel, and pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for the difficult person – that their heart will be softened to the gospel and they will see their sinful ways, repent, and turn from that path.

But more importantly, pray and ask that God will reveal to you how this difficult circumstance can best change you. Why is this difficult person in my life? God, what are you teaching me through this challenging circumstance? Perhaps it’s not the scoffer God is working on, perhaps he’s refining us through a difficult person.

If you’re in the heat of battle with a scoffer and have been wounded by them, take heart, for God has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you and His mercies are new every morning. Seek Him, seek help, and as much as it depends on you – seek to live peaceably.

I’ll end with Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:17-19 (ESV):

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Slow To Anger

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I found it, that dreaded puddle on the floor near the freezer in the basement. The door left open by mistake with the yellow sign on the front stating “don’t forget to close the door”…and I lost it, screaming out in frustration:

“WHO LEFT OPEN THE FREEZER!?
WHO WAS IT?
EVERYTHING IS RUINED? ALL OF IT…ALL THE FOOD! EVERYTHING!
GIVE ME A BREAK! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WHY?”

And the rant continued…until I scared the neighbors and everyone in the house. Looking back I acted so silly that it’s comical now, but it showed my heart at the time. I railed and rumbled like a mighty giant, but it was really immature and unhelpful. I couldn’t undo the mess, I couldn’t change the thawed food, and now I had to repair the damage done to my children and wife.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32 ESV). 

The Hebrew word for slow in this passage is arek, which means long or long suffering, patient, slow to anger. The Hebrew word for anger is aph, which means a nostril, nose, face, anger.  

Can you envision my explosion with nostrils flaring, angry faced screaming above?

But slow is better, so much better that the passage says it’s better than the mighty. The Hebrew word for better is towb, which means beautiful. Can anger be beautiful? Yes, if it’s slow anger.

The other meanings behind that word are: beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair word, be in favor. Thus, it’s a good thing to be slow to anger so much so that it’s better than a mighty warrior who takes a city. 

So, how is it possible to be slow to anger? The second half of the verse explains it, by ruling our spirit or temper. Ruling is the word mashal, which means to have dominion, reign, bear, cause to, have ruling have power. 

Matthew Henry’s commentary on v32 states:

To overcome our own passions, requires more steady management, than obtaining victory over an enemy.

So how is this possible? It’s God working in and through us producing the fruit of the Spirit who gives self-control. God knows the lack of self-control is one of our greatest foes. It’s more difficult than taking a well fortified city. God is slow to anger, and by His grace we can be slow to anger too.

So how do we apply this in our lives?

  • Self-control is slow, but anger is aggressive. Thus, we should do the reverse of aggressive anger, we should aggressively and actively pursue self-control.
  • How do we actively pursue self-control? Through God’s word, through prayer, through accountability, and by walking in faith despite our circumstances, by repenting when we lose it – like my rant above, and by being quick to seek forgiveness of others when we’ve lashed out in anger.

What about you?

  1. How has your life exemplified self-control in the midst of angry circumstances in the past?
  2. What are some ways you can be held accountable to this principle?
  3. How can you work to see this principle accepted and lived out by others?

Giving Like A Child

wrapping-paper-1874672_1920The Bible teaches us that God owns everything and if that’s true we need to move away from an ownership mentality and embrace a stewardship mentality. Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven, and the heaven of the heavens, and the earth with all that is in it (Deuteronomy 10:14).

What about you? Is it my car, my home, my money, or is everything His?

Let’s go to David’s prayer after the people gave a freewill offering for building the Temple. This is great prayer…

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.

Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own (1 Chronicles 29:11-16).

God owns everything, and when we give, we’re giving what he has given us. We need to move away from an ownership mentality and embrace a stewardship mentality.

Let me give you an illustration that I think parents and children can both relate to. Parents, at some point in your life your child is most likely going to ask you for money in order to buy you a gift. It’s a gift you probably don’t need and may not necessarily want, but you give them the money and allow them to be stewards of it.

Why?

Because it’s not really about the amount of money or the gift is it? It’s about love, it’s a transaction of love between the parent and the child, and then the child to the parent, where the transaction stirs their hearts towards one another.

That’s what our giving to God should be like! We freely give because our hearts are stirred toward our Abba Father and His heart is stirred toward us.

So, How should we give?

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each one must give as he has decided in his heart (it’s a transaction of love), not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver…[Like a parent loves a gift from a child].

 

 

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